Tonight is the occasion of the second réveillon, the first taking place on Christmas Eve. The name comes from the verb meaning ‘waking’ (or staying awake!) because the réveillon is a meal which starts very late and goes on until 4 am, often with ten or more courses. At Christmas the meal is shared with family, whereas on New Year’s Eve it is celebrated with friends.
Everytime I have switched on the TV lately there has been a short programme showing us yet another way to serve foie gras. And endless reports about the harvesting of oysters and mussels, or buying lobsters at the fish market. Shellfish is a must for réveillon, as is champagne, although in Burgundy of course we drink crémant which I much prefer.
Mistletoe on our gate
We’ve been out this afternoon to get some mistletoe from the woods. We learned last year that mistletoe is not to be used at Christmas, only at New Year. At the stroke of midnight you kiss your loved ones under the mistletoe to ensure prosperity and good fortune for the year ahead. Another thing that I have found different in France is that you do not wish people a Happy New Year before New Year’s Day. Oooops!
Cards don’t seem to be much in evidence. They may be sent to family who you will not see at Christmas, but not to friends and neighbours who you see often. Cards are more for New Year and are not so prolific as in the UK. At a couple of euros each I am not surprised!
Thankfully we are a million miles from Paris where it seems there is a competition every New Year’s Eve to see which gang can burn the most cars in each district. Apparently last year the official figure was 1137 cars. M. Sarkozy is going to keep quiet about the extent of this year’s mayhem so as to discourage people by not giving them some record to break next year.
No French réveillon for us though. We are going to have roast pork and crémant, then wander down to Cluny to see if anything’s going on. We have booked to go riding tomorrow so we have to be in a fit state!
Our village this week
In common with the rest of Europe we have had a White Christmas. But I think we cannot be beaten as regards peace and tranquillity. We were happy to spend Christmas ‘snowed in’, that is, we take note of the ‘only drive if necessary’ advice and we have felt no compulsion to risk getting stuck on the hill or to skid into a ditch. The only traffic past our house has been the farmer on his tractor taking hay to the horses and cattle.
Horses in the snow
With the family not being able to get here this year my bank account thinks I’ve cut up my cards. For weeks we haven’t been shopping except occasionally for food and we started the winter well stocked up. No more being reduced to a diet of crackers and Marmite as last year.
We see on the UK news that the shops are already full of bargain hunters from the crack of dawn on Boxing Day. Not so here. In France the sales are regulated by the government and they don’t start until January 12 . Anyway most businesses and commerçants seem to on holiday until after New Year.
A peaceful walk through the wood
So here’s to hibernation. We’ll see you in March!
We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Pantomime in French is a faux ami. It really means mime show even though the village children were treated to a pantomine today in the lead up to Christmas. Les Aventures de Monsieur Theodule was a one-man show that kept the kids enthralled. By just changing his hat he could become a completely different character and his sketches were just so funny. French mime at its best. The kids were especially pleased to provide sound effects for a story about a train. There were no words so it was easy to understand for toddler and foreigner alike.
Today the snow is melting away as fast as it came. We went for a walk through the woods and the sun felt warm on our backs even though the wind went straight through. We are expecting the temperature in double figures by Wednesday, a welcome relief after being intermittently snowed in for much of December.
Due to snow on Saturday the attendance was very poor at Laizé so we combined classes to play Pony Games. We were given the small ponies which enjoyed dashing around playing tag. I must show you this picture of Chris on Epine. His feet are almost touching the ground!